Cuts In Our Area

20 October 2010, 14:29 | Updated: 21 October 2010, 12:06

Cambridgeshire County Council, district councils, Cambridgeshire Police and Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service are all now starting to work out what the government spending review means for them.

This page will be updated as each organisation provides a response to the review.

The chancellor, George Osborne, says his four year plan to cut public spending will bring the country "back from the brink".

Nearly half a million public sector jobs will go over the next four years.

People will also have to work longer, with the retirement age rising to 66 by 2020.

Seven billion pounds will be shaved off the welfare budget.

Here's what councils and organisations across Cambridgeshire are saying about the review:

Cambridgeshire Police:

Chief Constable Simon Parr said: "Today’s Spending Review provides us with a useful indication of the potential scale of cuts to the police service. However it is still too early to speculate about the impact of these cuts for policing in Cambridgeshire.

We must now reflect on what we have heard today in more detail, as we continue to create a new policing model involving local partners, other police forces in the region and changing the way we deliver non-emergency policing services for the benefit of local communities.

This work is seeking to find the most cost effective way to manage the force and ensure the maximum amount of time and resources are available to provide the best front line service to people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

We remain focused on our frontline duties and our commitment to bringing offenders to justice and keeping people safe.

The full picture for Cambridgeshire will not be known until the Home Office releases the budget statements for forces in early December."

Cambridgeshire Police Authority:

Ruth Rogers, chair of Cambridgeshire Police Authority said: "The Police Authority fully supports the work being done to find the most cost effective way to manage the force and ensure the maximum amount of time and resources are available to provide the best front line service to people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Members will be ensuring the focus remains on frontline duties and the force¿s commitment to bringing offenders to justice and keeping people safe.

We will know more for Cambridgeshire in early December when the Home Office announces the provisional funding allocations for Police Authorities."

Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service:

Graham Stagg, Chief Fire Officer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "It is too early for us to know what the exact impact the Comprehensive Spending review announced today will have on our fire and rescue service. We are unlikely to know this until December when we get notification of our Local Government Settlement.

What we do know is that there will be a 25 per cent reduction in our government support over four years. We do not know how much this equates to in financial terms though as the government is reviewing the grant formula.
It was announced that the cuts will be weighted to the end of the spending review period. This is welcomed as it will give us time to carefully plan how we make the savings in years three and four.

In anticipation of the cuts, we have asked all budget holders to find five per cent savings in their 2011/12 budget. This will see us through the first year.
There is no doubt we will need to make some very difficult decisions about how we provide our fire and rescue service to find the remainder of the savings.

At the moment we are not ruling anything in or out and we will carefully consider the impact different options will have on our service delivery."

Cambridgeshire County Council:

Cambridgeshire County Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for Resources and Performance, said: "It has been clear for sometime that public services were going to face major financial challenges after the bail out of the banks. That is why a year ago in the depths of the recession Cambridgeshire County Council started planning to make major savings over the next five years. Although we will be looking through the details of the Comprehensive Spending Review it looks like the County Council will be looking to make savings of around 35 per cent over the next five years, equating to around £135 million. This is made up of a combination of the Government funding costs announced today, the costs of increased demand on services and future council tax expectations.

This means we have to find significantly more savings than we had originally planned for, although in the summer we had prudently revised our plans to about this figure in anticipation of the announcement today. We are already on track to achieve £16 million in savings this year.

Like other authorities Cambridgeshire will need to look at finding more savings by transforming how we deliver services. The national deficit has left public services across the country facing its toughest ever challenge in generations. The way we deliver services may change, or some stop all together, but our vision remains the same -  that is to make sure Cambridgeshire people receive top quality services designed to meet their needs. We will be talking to communities about how they can help us and what services they want to see being delivered.

The true results of today’s announcements will not be known for weeks or months to come but we will have to make very hard decisions."

East Cambridgeshire District Council:

Cllr Fred Brown, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "The impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review will not be obvious over night - the savings which are having to be made at a national level will take weeks, months perhaps even years to filter down. In East Cambridgeshire we are always working hard to make sure we offer residents real value for money for their Council Tax and they get the services they need. Clearly the way that Councils work will change in the future and we know as a local authority we will need to adapt and innovate in the years ahead."

Opinion - Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce:

Reacting to confirmation that the A14 would not be receiving any of the £30billion earmarked for capital transport expenditure, John Bridge said: "We’ve known since the Conservative Party Conference that Transport Minister Mike Penning MP was unwilling to invest in the A14 improvement programme. He clearly can’t see the economic benefits to the region of having an efficient and reliable road network linking the M1 with the ports. 

So, given that he has already suggested that the private sector should take responsibility for providing the adequate infrastructure business needs, perhaps now the government could get on with conducting the public inquiry that is necessary to ensure that the scheme can move forward in one way or another.  Then we’ll know how committed the government really are to supporting growth in our region – without a viable road scheme in place, even the private sector can’t move it forward, and I will certainly be writing to the Minister to that effect. 

And perhaps he could also let the public know what his plans are to deal with the Huntingdon Viaduct. It’s under constant observation and many believe on borrowed time. We need assurances that the government truly understands how desperate the situation is.  

All in all, there was very little announced today to surprise or alarm businesses. But now is definitely the time for the government to start answering questions on how it is going to support growth in Cambridgeshire - with new housing developments dependant on adequate transport infrastructure, and capital funding for new homes being dramatically slashed, the government can’t rely on the private sector to drive everything forward."

Opinion - Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England:

Labour’s Richard Howitt MEP said: "In Cambridgeshire, we already know that the £4 million cut from the libraries budget will mean fewer books and computers and library closures. Connexions, the service for young people, is under threat; Cambridge County Council and Addenbrookes, are planning nearly 1000 job cuts, and teaching assistant posts are being axed.
There is nothing fair about these cuts. Today’s announcement on housing means Cambridgeshire tenants will live in fear. In one of the most unaffordable places to buy or rent in the country, council tenants will be placed on "flexible tenancies" with councils checking whether a change in circumstances mean they can stay in their home or will be moved on. But circumstances change all the time – and if you are going through a divorce or bereavement in the family you could find yourself on the streets.  
The cuts don’t make economic sense. The Chancellor said that ‘Universities are jewels in economic crown’ but announced a 7.1% cut in University funding, one of the powerhouses for our economy. There was also no mention of the A14 upgrade between Cambridge and the west of Huntingdon and we will have to wait for further details of transport cuts. There will be 490 000 public sector job losses. But when you cut jobs, stop house building and create a climate of fear, that risks yet more jobs losses and could drive the country back into recession."

Comments from other organisations will be added as they are made.